The Art of the Concert Poster: Meet the D.C. Artists Who are Taking Music Visuals to Another Level
Concert posters still have a considerable amount of influence when it comes to promoting an event. Creating a design that manages to be both informative and memorable is an artform that few artists can master; they must not only have to capture a specific emotion or attitude, but also need to seamlessly weave in all the important details of a particular show or tour. Going into more detail on the art of the concert poster, we asked some of D.C.’s best artists to share their favorite works and tips to creating a killer design.
All of these amazing artists will be featured in our special pop-up art installation for Sounds of the City Festival’s Mainstage showcase, which takes place on Saturday, March 4. At the show, you’ll get to view all of their best works from the last five years and buy prints directly from the artists. Don’t miss it!
I think one of my favorite posters to design was my pigeon BRNDA poster for Comet Ping Pong. I had a lot of fun with it. Comet gave me a ton of freedom with my designs, so it was easy to experiment and get weird and silly. Right around this time, I was just getting into illustrating my posters with my iPad versus directly using my laptop and trackpad. The transition into hand-drawn posters was cool because it was really different from my original more graphic, shape-driven designs. I was now able to use more lines and create my own textures! The drawing is actually based off a selfie I took while goofing around in Richmond. I then painted the watercolor on my iPad, and hand-lettered the poster. I liked making this one a lot because it allowed me to create something one hundred percent unique to a style I was working on evolving.
I like to design a poster for every show my band(s) play, and my favorite is Drop Electric and Laughing Man at Artisphere. The music and visuals (which were projected onto Artisphere’s dome ceiling) were sort of dark and apocalyptic, so I wanted to make something unsettling and memorable, but with a strong emphasis on type. Part of the process of playing shows is placing posters around the city—I wanted viewers to see the important info right away.
My process: I started with taking photos of moss, cement, wood, and other patterns I came across. These became the main background texture. After that, I sketched my initial idea for the character/creature, which I recreated in collage by fiendishly searching the internet for images that matched my sketch, digitally cut them up, colorized them, blended the layers, etc. Next, I laid out the type and played with composition.
I love how this poster came out—but it also reminds me of what we (Drop Electric), Laughing Man and From Block2Block accomplished with the Artisphere show. I’m very proud to have been a part of it!
My favorite flyer thus far has been on January 21, 2017 at Comet Ping Pong. Due to the severity of their security situation, unfortunately Comet was unable to use the initial flyer I made (which was based off a Sue Coe piece commenting on Reagan from 1984). January 21 was the day of the Women’s March, so I wanted to make something that was politically charged; this flyer was my appropriated response to our current administration. Donald Trump’s laundry list of racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and Islamophobia have served as Exhibit A in the case against his fitness for the presidency. Apparently, America is unable to learn from its former appalling historical mistakes. SAD!
I think each design sort of becomes my baby a little bit while I’m working on it. One I’m particularly fond of is a poster I did for my band Vinny Vegas when they played with MeWithoutYou at the Depot in York, PA. It was my first time getting to do work for a much bigger band, and one I’ve looked up to for a long time. I also got to create all the elements by hand, which I think was a bit of a launching point to the style I use for a lot of my designs today.
Jeffrey Everett (Rockets are Red)
I have always believed my latest creations are my favorite. It is hard for me to want to look at older pieces or to be precious about my work, as I usually see all my flaws and screw ups. I am really happy with my latest posters for The Bouncing Souls. Both posters come from a way of coping with these times of unrest. I feel, when stressed, I react in two ways: I either retreat and take solace with myself, book, and music or I get belligerent as FUCK, call people out non-stop, flip-off the jerks, and give the aggression two-times back; as Joe Strummer sang.
The Bouncing Souls are like that for me. I have been drawing this woman for the last seven years for this band that I love. I saw the last two posters as my response to the Trump administration. First, we take time to heal and recover from this illegitimate clown and all the bigotry he brings. We remind ourselves there are good and beautiful things still around us. Then we get back to work to make the world a better place. The second piece intentionally had a pussy cat in there to honor the Women’s March. I hope this poster gave a little comfort to those still reeling from the election and reminds them that even though we all seem small there are literally millions more of us than them.